Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Monday, May 25, 2015

Query Question: I love you, can I tell you?

Thank you for being awesome. I imagine you get that a lot. People are thankful for your help, and it can be hard not to gush.

A chronic gusher myself, I often wonder how my appreciation is being perceived by its  recipients.

And so, if I may, I'd love to know your thoughts.

See, there's this publisher. I've been following him for about two years. I love his passion and personality. He has incredible ethics and works hard for his authors. We've been in contact multiple times for various reasons, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is the one I want to publish my work.

I want to tell him how strongly I feel, yet I'm afraid of coming across as creepy or phony.

How much praise is too much? Does sincere flattery get old for your kind of wonderful?

Normally I delete all the nice things people say to me in emails before I publish their questions here. That's not to say I don't appreciate their compliments, I DO. I delete it because I think it would make everyone feel they had to start their question with some sort of praise, and that would remove any shred of sincerity from it.

The more specific you can be about what someone has done that helped you, the easier it is for us to feel it's sincere and not just idle flattery.

"I love his passion and personality" is more adulation than anything else
"He works hard for for his authors" is much more specific.

If you were to say "I want you to publish my work because you work hard for your authors" that's something that feels genuine.

"I want you to publish my book because I love your passion and personality" ....that feels like sucking up.

Sincere thanks never gets old.

So, tell the publisher what he does that makes you want to query him, and leave the gushing for fan letters to Tiger Beat.


S.D.King said...

Good points, Janet.

It is difficult to express thankfulness when it can be interpreted as hollow.

So here is some rock solid thankfulness (no hollowness - you don't rep my genre anyway, so I have nothing to gain).

I would like to say that although I follow a number of blogs, there are only two which give me the sense that the authors are truly going out of their way - spending countless hours to build into lives - and this blog is one.

The other is related in that it is Miss Snark's First Victim. The Authoress spends a lot of time helping others, as does the Shark.

I would be remiss to not mention thankfulness to our veterans today. My dad was a Korean War vet and is still fighting the VA after all these years to get some help for the PTSD that he and our family endured these past 50+ years. Alongside him is my long-faithful mother who is the only reason he is still alive. Thanks to them- and to all the others whose sacrifices allow me to tap at a keyboard in safety and without fear.

AJ Blythe said...

I always worry about coming across as sucking up, so I tend to go the other way and go formal.

I spent a lot of time over a few days with a US editor. She wanted to see my work, and asked for pages. I sent her a matey email, to say what fun I'd had gush gush (I had a blast). But I was so worried about 'appearance' I sent my pages separately. Had anyone else read that email they would have thought we were strangers.

Great question OP, and I like the strategy suggested by QOTKU. Though I wonder how brave I'll be when the time comes to do something similar?

W.R. Gingell said...

Yeah, I tend to go overboard in the other direction, too; then when someone is nice and easy and lovely back in an email/comment/message I tend to melt and feel much more comfortable.

Jed Cullan said...

I'm terrible at sucking up, and it takes a lot of effort, so I don't bother. Plus, I never mean it.

However, you guys are great and awesome and are so nice, and so is the Sharkums. Mostly. Perhaps. Maybe.

I totally suck at sucking up. Suckity-Suck-Suck.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I come from a family of stoics. And part of my task, as I try to round out that heritage in a healthy way, is learning to voice out loud the things I appreciate in others.

So, thank you Janet, for these pointers.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Let me just say, impressive comment count yesterday and amazing global interaction.

Regarding the subject at hand, genuine is a spring shower, sucking up is a deluge. (Can you tell I've been watching the news about the terrible floods in Texas).

And on this special day I want to add my heartfelt thanks and condolences to families who have lost loved ones to the ravages of war, both on the field of battle and on the home front.
Today we're flying the flag which draped my grandfather's coffin. Fort-eight stars to top of the mast and then at half-mast until noon.
Thanks Pop. I here you were a pretty remarkable guy. Wish I had known ya. Today we honor you.

JeffO said...

Is Tiger Beat still a thing???

Amanda Capper said...

Good question, JeffO.

This whole mystery agent persona is intriguing. I understand why it needs to be but, since writers are an inquisitive bunch, we can't help but wonder what she looks like. Her favourite movies, books, songs, and... how old is this shark, our queen?

And that's about as gushy as I get.

I'm thinking 47. No. 42.

Susan Bonifant said...

Tiger Beat is still a thing, but it no longer features Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy on most of the covers.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Susan, why were all the cover-guys so short?

Jenny C said...

Glad to know TIGER BEAT is still a thing. Oh, how I loved Scott Baio.

Picking up a thread from yesterday, I am from Wisconsin.

Dena Pawling said...

Thank you to this blog community. Because of you, I know there are others who walk in my shoes, who feel my frustrations, who share in my joys.

Thank you to my critique partners. Because of you, my story is much better, and I am encouraged to keep writing.

Thank you to the Shark. Because of you, my understanding of this crazy industry is much improved, and I know there are at least some agents out there who really care.

Thank you to active duty and veterans. Because of you, I can write whatever I want, without fear.

Thank you to the families of the fallen. Because of you, I know if anything happens to my son, I can endure.

Memorial Day – thank you to the fallen. You believed in this country enough to give everything for its freedom.

RobCeres said...

I hate to suck up. But even more, I hate to leave an obligation unpaid. And so I always feel compelled to say thank you when someone helps me. And I think that obligation is way more important than maybe sucking up. Something along the lines of "Dear Agent X, Thank you so much for running this blog. I know it takes a lot of energy, but I can't tell you how much it has helped me over the last year."

RobCeres said...

And as usual, ditto to what Dena just said.

Kitty said...

I guess sending that mature bottle of Macallan's is out of the question...?

Flowers McGrath said...

Great question! Hmm? I am most certainly driven by some reverse experience in my upbringing to want to compliment, praise, and flatter. I guess in my mind it might be a bit of the do unto others thing, or be the change you wish to see in the world. That said, I think i have the rose colored glasses thing and tend to very naturally see others as perhaps more special and perfect or important than they are. So I have become a little wary of my natural enthusiasm. I really waited a long time to let myself totally love this blog and all Janet's good efforts here. She has earned the appreciation she gets, mine and others. But I still think i come off gushy. Oh well. I just really enjoy being up and happy and into the good stuff i see around. It's ballast. But maybe not vry businessy.
Happy Memorial Day to everyone, and great thanks to all our heroes, past and present.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I banter with quite a few agents on twitter, but most of the ones I am really "friendly" with are ones who don't rep what I write. I don't want them thinking I want something from them and I don't. I genuinely find many of them quite witty.

Michelle Wolfson, for instance. She writes me odes. *preens* Come to think of it, she owes me one. I've moved.

When it comes to query letters, it's all business. I may mention they said they were looking for this or that on twitter, their MSWL (manuscript wish list), or blog, but I keep it pretty professional.

Shelby Foote once discussed his relationship with William Faulkner. William Faulkner detested social gatherings. He hated giving autographs and having people fawn over him. He was a very private person.

They got along because Shelby wanted nothing from him. They were just fellow writers who respected each other.

My oldest son hangs around with a multiple world champion bronc rider. Jim is kind of a quiet guy and doesn't really like the crowds that much and Brandon, my son, isn't much of a star worshipper. They just get along. So, when Jim is around he calls Brandon and they go find a quiet bar to hang out away from the crowds and autograph hunters.

I would imagine a lot of editors and agents are like that and just enjoy some normal treatment.

Oddly enough, being popular comes with a big flipside. I ran across a blog the other day ranting about QOTKU. Yeah, I know. Amazing, right?

Someone popped up, yet again, on B&W to rant about what a hack writer Diana Gabaldon is. She can't write. She needs an editor. She refuses to allow her work to be edited. The woman had to force herself to finish the book by sheer determination. Diana's stories are based on her and her Scot husband. Doug isn't Scot, but don't let that get in the way of a good rant. Everyone knows writers write there first novel based on themselves and Diana just happened to get lucky with Outlander and be successful. So, she has to keep writing about herself I guess.

There are two sides to this being popular coin and boy are they interesting.

Diana's gracious answer: "Not all books are for all readers. I hope you enjoy whatever you read next."

Anyway, back to word-o-matic slicing.

Today's thought, would Boudica's story be too violent for our pc world?

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I am genetically given to dry sarcasm and wry humor, so even if I try at adulation it sounds as though I'm being insincere at best, making fun of somebody and/or being mean at worst. Yes, this occasionally causes friend group and workplace ripples, and I'm very much like my Doberman Elka, wherein if you don't catch me in the act, I have no idea what you're talking about. Sigh.

But, being specific when it comes to compliments makes good sense. It does make it more genuine, and less like "I wonder if they just changed the "Dear ____" at the beginning of 50+ emails?"

I was born in New Jersey, on the Shore (no, I'm not like those people on the show. People like that [who are mostly tourists, by the by, and weekend ones at that] have been the plague of my existence since before there even was a show) and went to college + bought a house in central New York.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Just so no one is in doubt, I make no bones of the fact I adore Janet. There, it's out. And I don't adore many people. I'm kind of a curmudgeon.

DLM said...

Dena: "Memorial Day – thank you to the fallen. You believed in this country enough to give everything for its freedom."


I can't be the only one whose first thought at the Tiger Beat reference was that we here must start the Shark Beat 'zine. Gary Corby on the cover, maybe?

Or should that just be Shark Bait? ;)

Antiquing with my mom on Saturday, I found a shark mirror (will email the photo to our host shortly). I came SO close to buying it as a gift for the QOTKU, but ... that, like "passion and personality" might veer a bit too personal.

I will observe that specific praise was involved in two of the biggest bites I ever got on queries - one from (I'm just going to go ahead and name drop, because the pass has long since come and gone) Russ Galen.

What I said was not gushing, but impossible not to include, because the points were particular to the reason I wanted to query.

I've also generally made a point of mentioning specifics from interviews I've read, when in researching an agent I've laughed out loud or been struck by some point or other.

DLM said...

Julie - "Today's thought, would Boudica's story be too violent for our pc world?"

Boudicca's story would sell, I think (better than Clovis the First, at a guess). I don't know where PC comes into it - how would that even relate?

I've seen one or two sites hating on Janet as well, but the credibility is not maximal so I enjoy this one to the full.

Get it? Full? I KILL ME!


The only thing I hate about reading Janet every day is that it makes me want to keep querying Ax, keep TRYING. It may or may not be for the best I've all but exhausted every agent who reps historical, and every "go ahead and query me anyway" long shot I could find! :)

Cake on my first comment. Hamburgers this time. Memorial Day picnic fare?

Susan Bonifant said...

Carolynnw2NNs, right? And I forgot Davy Jones.

DLM said...

I was a Shawn Cassidy kid myself.

Ice cream. This party's shaping up.

Craig said...

Wait a minute, please. I want to get this back on track.

You start your computer, open word and bleed on your keyboard for the work you do. There is nothing to suck up about. Even this passionate publisher is in it for the money and the money he/she/it makes comes from you sweating you soul for them.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


When King Prasutagus died, Boudica objected to the Roman procurator claiming part of her estate for himself, so he had her flogged and her young daughters raped by his men.

In retaliation, she raised an army and killed upwards of 80,000 Roman civilians, having the Roman women of Londinium mutilated and crucified.

Given the recent uproar about Sansa's wedding night on Game of Thrones and some scenes in the Outlander books, I would imagine there might be a great hue and cry.

Martin is being flooded with hate mail. It is astounding.

Outlander has been out for what 25 years and people are still ranting and raving about Jamie spanking Claire.

Anyway, I completely did derail today's topic and I'm sorry. I'm just astounded at the uproar at Martin.

Colin Smith said...

I can only echo what others have said with regard to the sacrifice of the fallen to allow the rest of us to live the lives we do. I hope their descendents/families/loved ones know how grateful we are.

To the topic, I can quite agree that while I'm sure an agent doesn't mind being told they are the bees knees, the shark's fin, the custard on the rhubarb pie, etc., when it comes to a query letter, specifics mean so much more. If I'm going to make personalized comments (at the END of the query, of course), I'll express my delight at the agent's Twitter presence with reference to a recent exchange, or their blog with reference to how that blog has helped, or a recent article. I agree that it's a lot less awkward for people to tell you specifically how something you've done has enriched their lives. I leave it to family and close friends to tell me how ossum they think I am--just because. :)

bjmuntain said...

I am very nervous with people I don't know well(in person, anyway), so I always fall back on etiquette. I mean, if you follow basic etiquette, you rarely go wrong. Please and thank you. Try not to interupt. Keep the other person's water/coffee/scotch glass filled.

I'm not good at flattery. And I don't deal with it well, either. If someone tries to flatter me, I'll call them out on it or respond with snark - neither of which, I'm sure, is the intended response.

So if I tell someone I really like their blog, or their classes, or their book, it is always sincere.

But I'm sure Janet didn't write this post so she could get a lot of thanks, so I won't do that here. But sometime in the future... well, who knows. It's hard to shut me up sometimes, too. (I bet that surprised you all.)

However, I'm sure if you flatter an agent's client, you'll get a fan. After all, even Colin is *this* close to getting time off for his admiration of Gary Corby's new novel.

Jed: You made me laugh. After only being awake for an hour and not even finished the first coffee.

Jeff: I still see Tiger Beat in the stores. From the covers, it doesn't look like it's changed a whit. Even some of the hairstyles haven't changed. I think Tiger Beat has its own hair style.

Flowers: It's impossible to see someone as more special or perfect or important than they are. Everyone is special, perfect, and important. You're just able to see it better than many people.

Craig: Yes, this passionate publisher is making money, but that doesn't mean the original poster shouldn't want to work with him. It's his business practices that make the OP want to work with him, since it's those practices that show his passion. OP doesn't want to suck up - that's the question. "How do I tell this publisher I want to work with him without seeming insincere?" And Janet gave her the best answer.

Captcha gave me pasta. And since it was long, unbroken pasta, I can only assume it wasn't gluten-free. *sigh*

DLM said...

The thing is, Boudicca's story is (possibly) history. And GoT's treatment of Sansa departed from Martin's novels, as I understand it. Plus, that rape came at the culmination of a story arc that saw a young girl growing into a confident woman, and so the rape was seen as a gratuitous comeuppance. I don't pretend to have read about the GoT situation exhaustively, but I do find punitive and gratuitous rape in fiction problematic in the extreme. I also suspect (and I have experience in getting beyond the legend and propaganda in what often passes for history) there is much more to Boudicca than meets the popular eye.

Plus, to be quite mercenary, that story could be "spun" as a comeuppance of quite another kind - though that might be a tricky sale to try to make. It does features a female protagonist, and if sanitized (or spun) that might work in the market better than, say, the ultimate white dude in power (my novel) has. Boudicca is most often sanitized and kept close to legend, though. If I didn't already have the WIP and a third novel in mind, it's exactly the sort of thing I might be tempted to dip into.

And, speaking as a feminist, I still write my historical fiction very much WITHOUT strong, gorgeous, 21st-century feminist characters. It seems to me no favor to history to pretend it was anything other than it was.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


They've uncovered the the charred layer where Londinium was razed, which is kind of hard to dispute.

Anyway, I don't want to derail Janet's topic any more.

Flowers McGrath said...

Hmm. Two things from me...
1. Ossum possum
And 2, i, for my own trigger reasons, won't read anymore diana gabaldon books after the jamie torture scene, but since I love love love her writing, I have read up to that part of the book more times than I can count, read some spoilers and just imagined these two characters living out their lives in a myriad of ways. So, when I say Claire was not spanked, I do mean it because I have read the scene more times than I can count. It's not a spanking to be whipped with a belt bare bottom until you can't sit, at all. But in the context of the book, the time and the scene, it all is perfectly sensical.

On the other hand, I also think the game of thrones outcry is just silly. If you watch the series which I have done carefully, pausing and fast forwarding past bits too gruesome for me,it's all spelled out for you that they are going to pull every single punch. Why are you watching it all if you are against entertainments employment of senseless it rape or various evil murders or torture or incest or the number of disgusting dark things they do on the's just silly to be upset now! Especially since clearly they have watched every other scene of the shows various depictions of depravity to see that scene.

And craig, I think a good agent and publisher is bleeding in their own way for their work. I could never be an agent. I just don't think that way. Fact is, we all need eachother and we all deserve to be praised when praise is due. of course, it's best when it isn't a self serving load of BS.

Flowers McGrath said...

I liked that BJ...very flattering! :)

Julia said...

OK. So I have an unbelievable migraine, AND I'm contracted for Pizza-Putt-n-Yu-Gi-Oh-Store today. That - and I need to buy a GQ so that I can get the cologne samples to be sure I've picked the proper colognes for my Senator and his aide. That having been said, IF I survive today, I will post an Ode To Odontoshark by Midnight.

So let it be written...
So let it be done.

I think I've figured out why sharks are so irritable. They have migraines all the time.


LynnRodz said...

I, too, suck at sucking up and I've been reprimanded for being too blunt, so when I say thank you or offer praise, it's because I sincerely mean it. Otherwise, I won't say it. People who hate on this blog, saying it's a bunch of people sucking up to Janet, have probably visited this blog once or twice and they're not aware of the wealth of information here. Their loss.

I know it can sound insincere when we thank Janet over and over, but I feel it's with true sincerity when we do because, damn it, if it takes time for us to write our comments, then look at the time she puts into writing this blog. Each WIR, I can't help but think how much time she's taken out of her Sunday to post it. I don't care what those people think, I say, "Thank you, Janet."

Sure we get out of hand and go all the way to Mercury in the comment section, and I'll be the first to say it perturbed me at the beginning. But then I began to see little nuggets of wisdom from those comments and from them were the different personalities peeking through. Finally, because Janet allowed us to go crazy, the support for one another blossomed because we're all traveling this same road. Yeah, we're in different vehicles, traveling at different speeds (except for Colin he's not going anywhere until he gets a new engine) but we're all going in the same destination. So when we get off the road to rest, we enjoy each other's company and that's because the QOTKU has put up the welcome sign in Carkoon for everyone. (Maybe those people don't speak Carkoonian, or is it Carkoonish?)

Okay, I'll stop. I'm beginning to be as verbose as Julia and BJ. I say it in a nice way, ladies! (Or else I wouldn't say it.)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

As long as we're not like Willard McVain I guess.


Russ is awesome. Great that you got a person response.


LynnRodz said...

Sheesh, "going in the same direction" or "going to the same destination," but not "going in the same destination." I read that thing over and over before I hit "publish" and did I catch it? No, of course not!

DLM said...

Oh, I got an R&R. It was too early for the novel to work for him, but it was EXCITING! His attention alone keeps me from being 100% happy with letting Ax lie still for now. But gotta concentrate on the WIP; a better product. Starring women (and quite a bit of gratuitous violence - though no rape)!

More ice cream.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


That is wonderful. R&Rs make the world go round.


Colin Smith said...

Just so's you know: I am currently reading DEATH EX MACHINA by Gary Corby, and it is as least as good as I hoped it would be. Characteristic Corby blending of history and mystery, this time with a wealth of info about ancient theater and medicine, but presented in a way that doesn't feel at all like a textbook.

Thanks Gary for making Carkoon so much more tolerable! :D

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

What Lynn said.

What other agent let their regular blog readers post a personal link on their site?

What other agent has more than 50 comments daily?

I too, adore Janet. Though I don't know what she looks like. I doubt she looks like a shark but I wouldn't want to see her bite.

Her wisdom has helped me immensely and continues to. Regularly reading comments from everyone else here has led me to sites I would never have found otherwise. It's thanks to this blog that I want to write well. It's thanks to all the regulars that I found the courage to talk about my writing and want to be published. I've found confidence from what I learn here. Am I gushing? It sounds like it. I don't usually gush.

Though expressing gratitude like QOTKU suggests sounds like the best bet, I understand the OP.

Finding a publisher after spending years craving to publish has got to be emotional.

I think it's a good idea to see beyond that moment and know that the hard work comes after. The next book, and the next.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, just so you know, rhubarb ranks right up there with limas.

I got noodles, at least I won't go hungry.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

OK, Julie and Colin! I hope you two are happy. There I was, innocently reading along and I came to the words--sentient bees. And what do I think of?! Jeez lueez. Between sentient and fuzzy hop-a-long-bunnies, what's a person to do?

Lynn: I've noticed quite a bit of Mercury's miscommunications. And Julia, is Mercury still sleeping (or was it hiding) under your bed?

2Ns and Colin: Rhubarb? Yum. Rhubarb crisp and rhubarb wine-making time.

Dena: thank you for your Memorial Day tribute. Yes.

Colin Smith said...

One of the things I miss about home is my Mum's rhubarb crumble. With custard. Mmmm! I gather rhubarb's hard to grow around these parts. It seems the soil and climate are not ideal. :( said...

Wait a minute. There are people who say it's "sucking up" to comment over here? Really? Good lord, that's so funny I'm snort-laughing. Those people must not have a realistic grasp of how the whole getting-an-agent process works. "Yeah, that Janet Reid, she signs ALL the writers who comment on her blog." Seriously?

Honest to god, I comment over here IN SPITE OF the fact I know she's reading the comments. It's entirely likely I'll say something, eventually, that will convince her I'd be a horrible client. Probably I already have.

I started commenting, after reading this blog for YEARS, because I finally read the comments and decided I like the other people who do so. You all are funny and smart and supportive. And in a profession that's lonely almost by definition, it's really nice to find other writers you can talk to about writerly things.

As much as I appreciate this blog and consider it a valuable resource, I can't say I feel all "gushy" about Janet. She has earned my respect. That's not easily done and it's a much higher bar than all that other stuff.

Colin Smith said...

OK, confession time. Here at FPLM-Carkoon, we do have a picture of Janet on the wall. But it's not out of any gushy devotion. We are required, according to the articles of exile, upon entering the office each morning to bow humbly before the picture of Mighty QOTKU and say three times, "I am most dreadfully sorry for--" followed by the offense(s) for which we were exiled. Failure to do this invokes article 12.1.4 which requires completion of THREE synopses while wearing Beelzebub's underpants. It's not pleasant, I can tell you.

W.R. Gingell said...

Craig: I kinda agree with you in that, yeah, it's a working relationship and there should be obligation on both sides if it's gonna be a healthy relationship. However. We choose certain people to work/be friends/pass the time with because we like something about them, and it's not a bad thing to let them know.

DLM: I love what you said about strong 21st century heroines and historical ones. I'm far from agreeing that historical women weren't strong (strike, you try doing housework without modern conveniences, or living in a world that sees your brain as so weak that an education could potentially 'injure' it, or one that sees you in most cases as property) but it makes me very happy to see someone acknowledge that those women aren't the same as today's women, and who isn't trying to force their own mould history. I have stopped reading more historical books than I can remember because someone shoe-horned their 21st century way of life into a 1700s setting. Gah!

Julie M: I also write odes. To date I have written four, with the latest being, ahem:


Oh beast of the feelers and long slender legs
How fleetly you scuttle through darkest of dregs;
Your greasy brown shell gleams bright as you go-
How my sister did scream when you caressed her toes!

Feel the poetry people. These are important themes. Reflect on them.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


I love that.

DLM said...

Hi, W. R.! Thank you - to clarify, I do not mean to imply women in the past were not strong, I was just adding that particular adjective to the trope I see constantly - I might as well have just said "Mary Sue" and been done with it. That doesn't take the same adjective away from real women, nor certainly my characters. My favorite quotes from early research:

Women are viewed as life-givers and ass-kickers in Ostrogoth culture. They should not be provoked except for entertainment purposes.

The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
"Medieval Kingship" --Henry A. Myers

"[Amalasuntha] proved to be endowed with wisdom and regard for justice in the highest degree, displaying to a great extent the masculine temper." --Cassiodorus

My period actually predates the "education might damage the female brain" idea by nearly a millennium and a half, but there were separate issues (see also, Myers' quote above) and I am trying to INCLUDE these rather than shut them out, because that to me is far more interesting than writing women I could meet right now. If I wanted to write about now, I wouldn't be doing histfic! :)

And I ***adore*** that ode. Fantastic.

Julia said...

Lynn - Oi! <-- Point made concisely.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Lisa and Colin, my grandmother used to grow rhubarb. Climate here in CT did well for it. I was told the leaves are poisonous but the stalks tasty. We used to cut the stalks and dip them in sugar. I tries it and wasn't crazy about it. My cousins loved it and got belly aches to prove that eating too much raw rhubarb does not a pleasant evening make.
On occasion, I do like rhubarb and strawberry pie and rhubarb crisp as long as you smother it with vanilla ice cream. But raw or raw with sugar, nope that's some nasty stuff.

You know, I feel like we're a bunch of co-workers, standing around during our break, chatting about the random stuff we chat about, while the boss drinks whiskey and trolls her inbox.

Shhhh, here she comes, back to work...Colin.

DLM said...

2Ns, now my brain is trying to reconcile the Shark and Lumberg from Office Space, and hearing her swim up to the cube farm for a good, old-fashioned, "Yeeeaaaaahh, I'm going to need you to go ahead and come in on Suunnnndaaaaayyy. Yeaaah."

More terrifying than the fin. Eep!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

ooh, I'd love some strawberry rhubarb pie. There's a place by my grandparents called Delicious Orchards which makes my platonic ideal of strawberry rhubarb pie (and cider donuts).

I just got back from a BBQ which, unfortunately, featured no strawberries or rhubarb. But there was lots of meat and Elka was invited to attend as well.

W.R. Gingell said...

DLM: I just love the fact that there's someone who has seen the issue and is trying to be true to period. I haven't heard anyone EVER say something like you just did. I thought I was the only one who thought that way :D
Your particular period is a rather terrifying one with rather terrifying and unchancy women- very fascinating.

Mind you, my 'period' of choice is 1700-1800s, so there's a HUGE difference from yours there :D
The thing of putting modern girls and modern ideas and sensibilities into historical fiction is my bugbear, and I'm constantly annoying my husband by ranting about it when it's done on telly and in books.

People just don't seem to realise that the Fanny Prices and Helen Grahams of the fiction world were immensely strong in their own ways, and that they endured and lived through severe troubles (mental and emotional as well as quite often physical). It annoys me to see that strength and endurance belittled for the dubious 'positive' qualities of sleeping around, pert answers and midnight escapades, etc.

Okay, rant over. Glad you guys enjoyed the Ode :D

W.R. Gingell said...

Also, if there's pie going round, can I have a piece? And by piece, I mean half the pie.

Julia said...

Lisa - You're welcome. Someone had to do it. I'm never afraid to go there - neither, apparently, is Quentin Tarantino. Planet Terror , def NSFW (Not Suitable For Work or Wimpy Weenies).

And, no, I'm afraid that Mercury has not vacated the premises. He lives with Murphy and Binkley's Purple Snorklewhacker under my bed. I've been led to believe that this is a permanent arrangement and that I have no say. Alas.

And Louise Perry is at an end. Let Reacher begin, God help us all.

And I've entered Manuscript Mania phase II: the part at which I now know my characters and go into Barnes and Noble and buy relevant magazines to flesh them out. I walked out with: GQ, Esquire's Big Black Book, Publisher's Weekly, a magazine on the Beretta M9, Men's Journal, and Sail Magazine. I was going to buy "Out," but it was covered in clear plastic and the guy on the cover was half-naked, and I wimped out. I also got Brooks Brothers and Polo cologne samples. So, together with all of the Winnipesaukee stuff from last weekend, I should be good to go when the first round of editing comes around.

And there you have it.

My Tolstoy entry for the night - sans Ode. I guess I'll do that later, since now I'm all annoyed at the physician. The one I'm about to tell you about. :)

Craig said...

It seems that a couple of people believe I disparaged the Queen. I sincerely hope she did not feel that too. The question was about sucking up to a publisher.

That the question was asked of an agent and it looks like the plan is to bypass an agent struck me badly. It seemed rather uncouth. Of course I could be wrong because that is not stated.

When you query you have a choice of what agents you send them to. You do not have as much choice about who offers representation to you. With luck and a good product you might be able to choose between two. The reason for that choice should go beyond wanting a particular publisher.

The only way past that is to approach the publisher directly. I believe Janet would say that is a bad move.

Though I have no chance for Janet to be my agent I hold her in the highest regard. The problem is of my making and not hers. If I felt it was hers I would not still be a commenter here.

I would miss not adding my two cents here. There is no other place on the internet that can elicit as much rational consideration from so many people. That says a lot about our host also.

Even if the people who have collected here is an accident I wish to thank Janet for having such a place. I also want to thank the rest of you for seriously considering the things I have stated, even when they are muddy and obtuse.

That was an interesting reCaptcha. It asked to mark all food. All except two were liquid nutrition.

Julia said...

(Rant the First - About Flattery And The One Person I Loathe)

Here we are in flattery city. I also abide in the slums of this haven of professional movers & shakers. I stink at it. I hate it. I hate doing it, watching it, being aware of it... I hate the mere fact of its existence.

Flattery reeks of insincerity. It is a form of dishonesty; condescension; self-advancement through means other than skill and honest effort, and therefore, I cannot abide it.

You can see, perhaps, how this worked well for me in medical school(Cough).

I alluded, once, to one of the vanishingly few individuals whom I truly and utterly loathe. The blog conversation revolved around words spoken unprofessionally & in haste. Well, this was a person in power - and he knew it. And at one point in time, I had a relative who was also in power, and the two of them, regrettably, became involved in a scientific endeavor that also regrettably involved me.

Now, I am by nature, extremely naive. At 44, it's a choice. I dislike politics and power plays - I prefer to do my best, show my cards and let the chips fall where they may, with some predictable outcomes.

Twenty years ago, though, I was truly naive, & I got caught between these two. And I saw a problem in the project they were contemplating. A BIG problem. A potentially life-ending problem for a patient that my relative thought he had made clear, & that the physician should have caught.

What I should have done, by flattery's standards - was not what I did, which was say in the meeting prior to going "live" in the patient, "But... wait. Thus & such."

You could have heard a pin drop. My life changed rather dramatically after that meeting. Patient saved; project ended; relationship between relative & physician severed; my career at that well-known institution terminated shortly thereafter.

Now. Does that incident have to do with why I detest flattery? No. But it does demonstrate that I've never quite grasped the intricacies of why buttering people up and playing politics is more important than the kid who is to be rolled into the OR the next day.

Are we (authors) rolling kids into ORs? Nope. But I'm still the same person.


Julia said...

(Rant the Second - A Tale On Flattery and The One Person I Loathe)

Now, I understand that what we're discussing here isn't outright "Gee, your hair smells terrific, hire me," stuff; it's more like, "I read your blog and it's helped me in thus and such ways," and this I'm willing to do - because those are statements of fact. They are accurate, and they bring querier and queried closer to one another.

But it's a very slippery slope. I've seen successful queries that make my stomach churn - not because authors have succeeded - I'm always happy to see a fellow author succeed; after all, we really aren't putting people's lives at risk, here - but because I simply don't have it in me to slide down that slope. I knew when I put my foot in my mouth that day what I was doing. I wasn't quite that ignorant. I simply didn't know any alternatives that would leave my integrity intact; and I still don't.

I'll never say to Janet, for example, "I want to work with you because you're the best Agent for me; you made these authors NYTB's, and therefore, I hope that you'll do the same for me." What I might say is something like: "I enjoy your wit; your advice is timely and seems relevant to my work; and you represent authors with works similar to mine. You appear to have passion for your work, and I'd love to work with someone with such clear devotion to her career and her clients."

It's a fine line, but one I wouldn't cross. Still, I know some do cross it, and I worry that there are Agents out there who expect it - just as there are docs out there who expect it. It would seem that one would be happy not to send a kid into surgery inappropriately rather than be annoyed at how the news was delivered; but then, ego is a tricky thing.

And that's why I hate flattery.

Goodnight, One And All.

bjmuntain said...


There's actually someplace where rhubarb won't grow? It grows perenially (and healthily) way up here in gardening zone 2B (otherwise known as the wide open prairies of Canada). Rhubarb has been known to take over patches of gardens.

Does rhubarb actually need cold? If so... I approve.

My mum makes the best rhubarb pies. Unfortunately, I can no longer eat them. But they're still the best.

kdjames: Do you mean, Janet *doesn't* sign every commenter here? But I thought... oh wait a minute. Are you the one person we weren't supposed to... nevermind.

WR: You are a poet of high degree. It takes a darn good wordsmith to use rhythm and rhyme properly in poetry, and you are the Real Deal.

Craig: The fact the poster is considering going straight to the publisher points to him being a small or medium-sized publisher. As I understand it, agents will rarely sell to smaller publishers (at least at first?) So 'bypassing an agent' is normal for this sort of publisher. I am willing to be told I'm wrong, though.

Flowers McGrath said...

So many interesting and insightful perspectives. I've gone and really looked up flattery. There is a wiki page devoted to it. Deep sigh. I guess flattery is deemed primarily negative. I suppose if I look at it, my idea of flattery in my mind is simply to be enjoying people's highsides. And telling them. I like telling people anything I can find about them that I like. I doubt it's to ingratiate myself falsely. But it may be closer to making lemonaide out of the lemons in life and in my mind. And there is a fantasy element to that. My fantasy life, of course. The one I'd like to have where things are inevitably better than perhpas they are. Or maybe, they are better if i allow myself to see them that way.

Julia, I have different kind of doctor story that does include flattery in a positive way. when i was quite young i developed a heart arryhtmia and I hadn't any insurance and there wAs a new procedure that would spare me taking beta blockers. I couldn't afford it of course and so, i agreed to go with the very excellent physician my dad used for his heart arrythmia and be a teaching subject. He was at NYU medical, the cowboy doctor, with his half million dollar experimental procedures and the students were at Bellevue here in nyc. Two really distinctly different hospitals in their clientele etc, and I was scared of Bellevue.

the night before my procedure i baked brownies. Tons and tons of brownies. Of course, i was a walk in patient and had to be at Bellevue at the ass crack of dawn. Needless to say, i ingratiated and chatted up everyone. And I gave everyone brownies. I must have found something interesting and beautiful about evry single student, nurse, attendant, and I was the girl with brownies. Call me a kiss ass, if you see it that way, but it was real for me. Everytime i gave someone a brownie and asked them about themselves, i felt better about my terrible unfortunate situation.

When i was on the table, not only was everyone slightly jacked, brand chocolate happy but interested in me. I got exceptionally loving good care that day and when I had to return a second time, again with brownies, they were glad to have me back.

Anyhow, i was always and shall probably always be the buttering up type. I have taken my licks in life too, with or without it. Point being, I mean the flattery i give. In this story's case, i was entrusting my very sensitive heart to a bunch of people who might not have seen me as a person if I hadn't been truly able to see them as wonderful and gift them i advance for the way I wanted them to treat me, which in the end they most certainly did. In the end it was very mutual. Everyone was dear to each other after that day. I was grateful and felt safe in their care.

Well, Those are my seventy five cents.

Flowers McGrath said...

I won't conjure the word, or the foul friends might show up *gasp* again in force, but w.r. "Your ode to...." was killer! You got skillz, for realz.

Julia said...

Ah, Flowers.
I see a distinction there. I don't think what you did was flattery, and I have acted similarly on many, many occasions.

I call it "kindness," and yes, I understand that it was terror-motivated with a hope that it would prompt reciprocal kindness.

But I've seen both sides of the medical monster. One day, I'll write that book, because I think it needs to be written; there are some out there, but I suspect I have a unique spin. Maybe not. I don't know.

Kindness begets kindness.

Flattery begets perhaps not getting eaten by the fish bigger than you; and, should you find yourself sitting at the same table with (sorry, Janet) the Great White of the department you hope one day to join - a cutthroat department with pedigrees to match the Royals', at least in Great White's mind - then you'd better pray that you either understand flattery or can keep your mouth shut.

I didn't understand flattery.

And it was more important to me to save a kid than to keep my mouth shut.

I still, twenty plus years later, know that I did the right thing - but I also know that the expectation was that I hold my tongue and let what was going to happen, happen.

And the institution in question - was Harvard. They should know better.

We make our decisions very early on in our lives about the lines that define us; what we will do and what we will not in order to get what we want. I lost Harvard that day. I did not lose medical school - but it took me nine years to get it back again.

The relative in question was my father. He was livid and wanted to intercede.

I wouldn't let him.

We make our choices; my decision to speak - my decision to bear the consequences.

And so he immediately broke a contract that had his name on it, severing a research program that had potentially life-saving promise; it took the physician several years to make up the lost time. He's done it - but it cost him. It cost all of us. And I have to wonder, looking back, what would have happened if I'd managed it better - but I was 23 and all I wanted to do was save a kid.

Integrity means different things to different people.

When I am admitted to the hospital, which happens with some regularity, I take great care to treat all of my caregivers with dignity and respect - but I start at the bottom of the food chain, because they so rarely get it. And so those are my brownies. And I get it back in spades. Conversation; pleasant nurses who rapidly respond; attentiveness. This is my currency. I don't consider it flattery. But then, I suspect you wouldn't, either. :)

Flowers McGrath said...

Wow. So complex. Isn't it? I can admit I have been around tons of wealthy pedigreed people i my life but I have never been in a situation where I could make or break a person's standing in any way. I most most certainly would choose the health of a boy over even my father's will. I have done that in less defined ways.

I am a little sorry flattery is so negative. But I do see your point and like you i think I am naive at times, often by choice. Anyway, thank you for sharing. We have so much to gather from eachothers life experiences. Definitely write that book! ☺️

Julia said...

Here. I wouldn't ordinarily do this, except that it pertains to food chains in the hospital. This is a snippet from the MS I finished on Fri. Maybe you'll see what I meant.

Kennedy closed her eyes and drew a slow breath through her nose. She counted to ten. This was a technique that had never particularly worked for her, but she kept trying regardless, in the hope that someday, she might find an effective mechanism to diffuse irritation. Rolling her jaw, she focused back on Nick. “Where were the fractures?”
She took another deep breath. “The ones on the skeletal survey.”
“Bilateral metaphyseal plates.”
“Exactly what I said.”
Kennedy clenched her jaw. This is going nowhere. She pulled her fingers from his and squeezed the armrest beneath the window on the other side. “Fine. Fine. I’ll just… fine.” She stared out into the darkness again, the frustration building in her. She could almost taste it. “You don’t want to help me? Fine.” She whipped her head back to him. “Now who’s playing around, Niklaus?”
He pushed the button on the armrest and sat up, turning to face her. All playfulness had vanished from Nick’s features.
Kennedy met his eye. He can change so quickly, lighthearted in one moment and grim the next. Well. Fine. So can I. She felt her lips tighten.
Nick moved forward until his face was an inch or two from hers. “I am helping you, Kennedy.” Furrows deepened between his eyes, which grasped and held hers with aquiline intensity. “You simply refuse to acknowledge that. You want to go hunting lions on the savannah? I understand. But understand this: I will not willingly send you out to be devoured Kennedy, because I do not think you will survive.”

Colin Smith said...

bj: You can grow rhubarb here, but from what I'm told it's hard to do. You have to plant at *just* the right time, and there's a very small window of opportunity if you're going to have any success. I've not tried growing rhubarb, but I know someone who has with varied success.

Flowers McGrath said...

mmm. I see. Especially at 23 it must have been devastating, one of those forks in the road that once down one side the other one is sort of hauntingly running parallel to your aftermath life. I do think you absolutely did the best you could do. And sometimes we just have to accept ourselves for who we are. You couldn't have played it politically then and possibly not now either.

On a spiritual note. I believe on a more undercurrent level everyone of us is given a sliver of consciousness to champion in this life. Our entire experience tells that tale in the long story arc ron birth to death. So at 44 I am sure your life has been clarifying and focusing the ideals and dimensions of these very challenges. If it were easy, it wouldn't need you to experience it and transform it. Please keep us posted on your ms! Sounds deep and powerful!

W.R. Gingell said...

BJ & Flowers: Yer right tootin'!

Wait, was that flattery? Now I don't know what's true anymore O.o

Flowers McGrath said...

WR: Tee hee! Yep! Totally don't know any'ore what the heck I am doin'! And neither does my eyeore of an iPad. I think it wants to leave comments all its own.
It. Is. Alice. Um...alive. Dang.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I wrote this up and then canceled it, but here I am again.

Years ago I worked on a dude ranch in Wickenberg, AZ. The owners were VERY wealthy people from back east. The wife was very uppity and liked to let people know how important she was. She was to be treated as royalty. The husband thought he was some kind of lady's man and liked to be have people tell him how awesome he was all the time.

I was the cook's assistant, so when I wasn't cooking, I went riding or stayed in my cabin and just tried to avoid the owners. The wranglers told me to just tell the husband how awesome he was and not let him get me alone and I'd be fine.

He was constantly, "How do you like this shirt?" "I just bought this new rug. It cost $10,000. What do you think?" Constant need for attention and oohing over him and his money.

Well, sure enough he got me in in the pantry. "I'm going to have a piece of that a$$."

"I don't think so. I want my check."

He wouldn't pay me. I went to his wife and she said I'd have to wait until the regular payday. She wasn't making exceptions.

He stood in the doorway and smirked at me.

I packed my suitcase and walked several miles to town with $20 in my pocket. Life's too short to put up with idiots.

Agents and publishers don't want flattery and I'm too danged old and hard-headed to start that foolishness now.

If anyone watches the cooking show Cut Throat Kitchen, it's kind of like that. The judge doesn't care about the sabotages. He just wants to know if the food meets the criteria.

Agents and publisher probably just want to know: is it a great story? are you going to be a professional to work with? are you a nut case?

For instance, if you want to be published, it might not be wise to go around the internet posting rants about what a terrible writer a very well known, best-selling author is and pondering her personal sex life because she has a sex scene with biting. Just a thought. I might be wrong, but it seems unwise.

Julia said...

Flowers - Weeeellll, since we're all (and by "we," I mean "me") exposing our furry underbellies (you can put lemon sharks to sleep by turning them upside down and rubbing their bellies...)

If we're going to talk spiritually - and I do recommend we keep this vague so as to keep my furry underbelly tooth-mark free - I have no regrets. Only stories. But I have a lot of stories. Very good stories.

And I will say this as well - we are who our lives make us, and to some extent, we make our lives. To some extent, we don't. God (yes, I believe in God. I write about Angels - this should not be a surprise.) has had an enormous hand in mine, again and again, and so I'll stay naive and I'll try to stay honest (not the "yes, that dress makes you look fat" kind of honest, just the "I'm not gonna suck up to you because you're doctor so and so - however, if you earn my respect, you're gonna know it" kind of honest. Janet knows by now that I respect the heck out of her. Lots of other folks do as well. I don't consider that flattery. I consider it well-earned advertising).

And, by golly, I'll try to stay kind.

One last thing before I finish up what I was doing and go to bed, and it is this.

When I was in my third year of residency, that was when I started getting really ill. I was hospitalized over twenty times that year. I ended up getting fired for going into renal failure, but that's a different story. Anyway, at some point, I realized - everyone here (at the hospital) has a story! And they just need someone to tell it to.

At first, I was really shy - I'm a very shy person in person. But I figured I'd just ask, and if they told me to mind my own business, okay. But not only did everyone tell me their stories, eventually, I didn't even have to ask anymore. People were seeking me out and telling me about their lives. And I don't mean patients, because I was almost always in my own room. I mean nurses, nurses aides, dietary people, housekeeping... even the ministerial staff would come just to tell me their stories. And I didn't even ask anymore.

It still happens today, in a different state. I just get admitted - and then I wait. And it starts. I'm a rolling story bin. And it never happened until the day that I thought, "I bet these people need someone to hear their stories." And I was right.

Everyone has been through something.

They just need someone willing to listen.

I don't regret what happened that day; it helped make me the person that I am. But part of that person knows that the system doesn't play fair, and that is a very important piece of information to have, especially if you want to help people who don't know that.



Flowers McGrath said...

Julie Weathers, I know it wasn't always easy, but all your stories make me wish I could be you for a few years. You have had such a totally different life from me. And I can't help but romanticize it.
Ugg and i made the terrible mistake of looking around the Internet at some back biter comments after some mentions here. It's soooo negative out there. Why why why? I don't get it. What good is it going to do anyone!? And none of it makes very much sense to me. Oh well, been A long day and time to say, "what's tomorrow's blog post going to be?" Nightie night y'all! Sleep sweet!

Julia said...

Julie - you're talking about that person and that rant you mentioned last night, right? Not... anyone... swimming around here. Like, I don't need to go delete stuff... right... now?

Flowers McGrath said...

Julia, I am sure it's your integrity and honesty that makes you a magnet for thier stories, and obviously your a good listener, too. Big into Angels myself!
Have a great night!

Julie.M.Weathers said...


That happened for a reason. You were put in that place for a very special purpose. Embrace it.

I had that happen after my daughter died.

At the funeral the minister said, "We say we know how you feel to Julie, but we don't really. No one can unless they've been through it. And in days to come, Julie will be able to comfort others who are hurting as she is."

I was furious. I thought how dare he put that curse on me. Mom was on one side of me on the pew and Don was on the other side and they wouldn't let me out so I started over top the pew in front of us. I was going to beat the sh!t out of that minister for even suggesting I ever wanted to be around anyone that hurt this bad.

Don dragged me back.

I was in the mall one day and walked into a little boutique. I had no reason to. I certainly didn't need any hair bows. By that time I had Brandon who was a tiny baby. The lady in the store looked down at him and I knew.

"You lost a baby."

She nodded. "He as six months old. SIDS"

We talked and cried. So it went.

Women would look at me and I'd know they'd lost a child. We would cry and talk and I'd tell them the truth. No, it never stops hurting, but it does get better and you can go on.

Julie, listen to the people who want to talk to you. They need to tell you their stories.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


No, the person isn't here, these people here are sane...relatively. .

You don't have to like every author's works, but going on all out rants on blogs hither thither and yon does not resemble good sense if you're trying to get published.


Flowers McGrath said...

Sniff. What a great group! Sheesh. I am grateful

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Julie and anyone else for that matter here, I am Julie_Weathers on twitter if you want to connect with me, but I am pretty boring. Look for the bucking horse

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Gads, and Janet thinks she has a writing blog.

Julia said...

Julie - I always listen. It's a privilege. I almost never talk - unless whoever is talking looks like they need me to say something.

My dad used to say that if everyone in the world could carry their troubles (he said crosses, but it amounts to the same thing) to one big pile and leave them there, wander around and choose anyone else's to take home instead, we'd all just pick up our own again and take them home, glad for the blessings in our own lives.

How very right he was.

My parents read me a story when I was little that I used to love.

There was this man, and he complained and complained about how much noise his family made. So he went to his rabbi for advice. The rabbi told him to bring his goat into the house. So he did.

The goat made lots more noise. And lots more mess.

The man went back to the rabbi and complained a lot more, and the rabbi said, "Perfect! Now bring in the dogs."

And the man went away and brought in the dogs.

And it went on and on with the cows and the horses and the oxen, each time getting worse and worse and the man getting more and more upset about how awful his life was getting.

And finally, the rabbi said, "Wonderful! Now take all the animals outside."

And so the man did, leaving him with just what he'd had to begin with. And finally, he was happy. "Peace at last!" he thought - missing the entire point, that he was finally happy with what he'd had all along.

Have a good night.
JH (PS, I'm not on Twitter much - it moves too fast, though I do have a handle: @Angylaidd1 - but I am on FB, and it's Julia Davis Hoover; and my author pg is - and I'll even put the link here, now that I know how.

Julie's Facebook Page

When I'm not in a writing or editing frenzy, I'm on there MUCH more than anywhere else, although it would appear that when I AM in a writing frenzy, I'm now HERE a lot. :)

Julia said...

Although actually, that's my author page, not my personal page, which is: Julie's Personal Page And that's the one that I'm ACTUALLY on a lot. The other one is for - you know - readers and stuff. Not real people like you guys. :)

Julia said...

BTW, Dena - I linked to your synopsis post on the blog on my FB page. Ta.
Now I really must go to bed, meeting with Query-Assisting-Indy-Publishers-Whom-I've-Hired-To-Help-Me-With-My-Query tomorrow morning.

(Everyone say... never mind.)

eparentcoach said...

When in a position of influence of any kind, most people assume the flattery showered on them is for the position, rather than the person. Too many people have seen how briefly the flattery lasts after their power/position ends. So, as everyone has said, flattery has to be not just sincere, but also directed to the person and not the job they do. Janet throws a great party for her commenters every day. That's not needed for her job. So we can flatter the !@$! out of her for being a great hostess!

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I would be more inclined to heap praise on the agent or editors clients or authors.

But ONLY if you have read said clients and authors and the praise rings true.

Dear Editor: I love your authors and have read every word ever written by . . . and because of that think my book would be a good fit for you and your organization.